April 30, 2008

Ward calls for more budget cuts

Just got this from Mayor Art Ward:

In a prepared release, Mayor Arthur J. Ward addressed the need for further cuts to the 2008 – 2009 City budget.
“The budget process is always a challenge and this coming year is no exception. Additional budget cuts are going to be necessary for Fiscal Year 2008-2009”, said Mayor Ward. With the downturn in the economy, prices rising in every sector of business and many Connecticut cities struggling to stay afloat, Mayor Ward is going back to the Department heads for another round of cuts. In a memo to City Department Heads, the Mayor stated, “Because you know what is truly needed to run your departments, I need your recommendations for cuts. Therefore, please provide to me your written recommendations for budget reductions by line item for your department no later than Monday, May 5, 2008. Please bear in mind that if you do not recommend meaningful reductions, reductions may be made for your department without your input.”
Ward went on to say, “I am also directing each of you to review spending for the remainder of this budget year. Every expense should be evaluated and prioritized, including the need for overtime. I recognize that some labor contracts require certain staffing levels, and that we must provide essential services. However, overtime, unless contractually obligated or for emergency operations, will require written justification to my office.”
Ward informed the Department heads that effective immediately, all requests to fill positions are on hold pending his review of the position being requested. Additionally, no new positions and no upgrades will be considered until further notice. In addition, all staff conferences, seminars out-of state travel requiring any expenditure (even if it has been previously approved and funded) must be cancelled if refundable.
In a move to keep spending at a minimum, the Mayor has called for anticipated over-expenditures in this fiscal year’s budget must be immediately communicated to my office and the Board of Finance prior to any overspending.
In conclusion, Mayor Ward said, “Throughout the year, but particularly during the budget process, we, as public employees, are under increased scrutiny. We must all continue to be diligent and professional as we are observed by the public and while we interact with the public; it is critical to the City’s image.
All of us need to make a concerted effort to improve the City’s financial position. I’m optimistic that our efforts now will positively impact our future. “

Copyright 2008. All rights reserved.
Contact Steve Collins at scollins@bristolpress.com


Anonymous said...

Lets see how Ward votes when it comes down to it! This is just a great way to get press! His vote will show! Lets see if he votes not to raise taxes!

Anonymous said...

...damned if he does, damned if he doesn't....

Anonymous said...

Considering that almost all of the huge costs will not be effected by this directive, it won't make much difference. The real budget costs are city employee salaries and benefits, and those won't be effected because of the union. Nice try Ward. If you want to prove yourself you should confront the unions.

Anonymous said...

At least the guy is making an effort. I almost always vote Republican but I am willing to give this guy the credit he's due. He's making an effort. Being a Dumb-o-crat in Bristol gives him a bit more security to take on hard objectives. Maybe he was the better choice?

Anonymous said...


Read the letter to the editor from former Mayor Stortz on the Bristol Press Website, dated 4-30-08

Quite insightful

Hopefully they will print it in the paper too.

Anonymous said...

Mayor, you need a new Board of Finance.

Anonymous said...

I guess Ward tested the wind and found out the citizens were fed up with the tax increases. He probably did some math in his head and realized that this many pissed off citizens could counter his union support.

Maybe he is going to act on this and fight for the taxpayers, probably not!

Anonymous said...

Steve, could you get that letter on this blog? I don't know how to do it.

Might be informative.

Anonymous said...

April 30, 2008 5:18 PM:

I agree partially. Did Stortz, Werner or Stretch attempt what you are suggesting? I doubt it. Nicastro certainly didn't!

April 30, 2008 7:26 PM:

I agree completely. We need new blood on the BOF with the exception of John Smith, Ron Messier and Roald "Gold" Earling. But who else could you possibly appoint who could carry the legacy of some of the great fiscal conservative leaders of the BOF (some of whom most of you newbies never even heard of)?

Anonymous said...

We need layoffs. That's the only way they can get this budget under control. I realize that isn't the popular decision with the union, but it's the right decision for the taxpayers, and that is what matters. We have too many unnecessary positions in the City.

Anonymous said...

Former mayor: City must deal with economic downturn
After almost 40 years, and the persistent efforts and unfailing commitment

of many people, we are now seeing tangible progress on Route 72. Hopefully,

it will be completed within the year.

At the same time, progress is being made at the Mall site. I am glad to see

the name being changed and in time we will see results there also. We should

appreciate the efforts and persistence of all involved.

Both of these projects will change Bristol in many ways: image,

attractiveness, demographically. They both will also have a significant

economic impact in time. Unfortunately, and ironically, each project will

probably cost us more money, before we start to realize the benefits, but

the ultimate impact will be significant and positive.

Because of the significance and impact of each of these projects, and the

long wait for them to be realized, we may be losing sight of equally

significant current issues, mainly the overall economic situation and how it

will affect us here in Bristol.

The State, National and International economic situation will have an impact

on Bristol: some of the impact will possibly last for years, and therefore

affect our taxes and our ability to grow and provide services, now and into

the future.

It may not seem apparent to many, but our revenue and expenses can and will

be affected in many ways.

We know the cost of oil and petroleum products has gone up: that will affect

our gas, oil and road resurfacing.

Building will slow, which will affect our building fees as well as Grand

List growth.

There will be/are foreclosures, which will affect to some degree, our tax

collection, on the short term and overall. We will eventually get the taxes

on house, but there probably will be an insidious drop and probable loss in

car tax collection. At the same time, foreclosure could present additional

problems and costs as some buildings might not be properly maintained.

The shifting of interest rates could affect our investment income,

especially during the beginning of the tax collection cycle.

Increased costs for other items will affect some our projects, those in

house, as well as those that are contracted out. Material costs will

increase, and everyone is affected by fuel oil costs.

Anticipated conveyance tax revenue will probably be affected as fewer houses

will be built, and possibly fewer people will be selling and buying.

The state will probably be less likely to provide any assistance as retail

sales are down, and their sales tax revenue will probably be down. The

sale/purchase of new cars is down; again affecting state sales tax as well

as the local Grand list. I think we can all foresee the likelihood of

smaller cars and fewer SUVs, which gain will reduce our tax revenue.

I would believe that here are other impacts that will be brought about by

the current economic situation, certainly some I am not even aware of.

At the same time, the current budget was realistic and without much fluff,

which will result in a smaller surplus. This too affects the coming budget.

What is of grave importance is that many of these issues will not only be a

factor in the coming years budget, they will affect the current budget. That

budget was developed with the information available then, basically last

spring. That has been standard practice for many years.

However, the situation started to change last fall and I asked many

department heads for their thoughts on possible impacts, especially in the

areas mentioned above, as well any other area that I hadn’t thought of

In late October, their responses and the overall concern was passed on to

the Board of Finance, and the then City council members. I do believe that

copies were given to incoming council members also.

With that went the suggestion that all of that information be given

consideration, and that whatever steps could be taken to alleviate the

impact, especially in the area of expenses. I said that small changes then

could reduce the need for possible drastic changes later on.

As we now see, the overall economic situation has gotten worse.

The question is: has anything been done within the city: is anything being

done? Actually, have the possibly affected areas been evaluated again in

light of what is happening nationally and internationally. Do we have to do

anything to mitigate the impact?

At the same time, will the city have to take additional steps to address

foreclosures, and the possible concerns for maintenance or lack thereof? We

know that blight is an issue: the increase in foreclosures will not help,

and there may be a need to prepare a plan to address it.

There are still more than two months left in this budget year to make

whatever adjustments are necessary and possible, as well as help in making

the coming budget workable.

Right now there are no indications that the overall economy will bounce back

quickly. In fact some are predicting it will get even worse.

Steps should be taken now to address these issues so as to minimize the

impact and maximize the results.

William T. Stortz


Anonymous said...

Looks like Stortz anticipated the severity of the economic issues.

Too bad Ward didn't react sooner.

Anonymous said...

It looks like Stortz is being an armchair quarter-back.

More clearly, he's making excuses for his buddy Art Ward (whom he worked with to defeat Ken Johnson).

Anonymous said...

I do believe that the letter and information was passed on to the council and BOF Last October, so as to give them a chance at a running start.

How do you see that as armchair quarterbacking?

Anonymous said...

"How do you see that as armchair quarterbacking?"

Simply because he's not in the game. Plus all these economic markers are common knowledge. This letter is hog-wash.

Anonymous said...

If they were common knowledge, how come something wasn't done sooner?

Personally, I think the mayors press release is just political grandstanding.

Yes, some cuts will be made, but will they be cuts or deferrals?

And, if they can be made, why weren't they made initially?

Anonymous said...

Ward, just ask Kenny: he has all the answers.